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The time has come to begin the initial research to make Franciscan Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM, a canonized saint in the Catholic Church. And we need the help of people like you to spread the word about such a possibility so that we can gather evidence about Fr. Judge’s life and ministry.
On September 11, 2001, Fr. Judge, who was a chaplain for the New York City Fire Department, rushed into the World Trade Center building with other first responders, after terrorists had flown planes into the skyscraper towers. As a result of his sacrifice, he died, and is now often referred to as “Victim Number One” of that tragic day which witnessed the deaths of close to 3,000 people, with over 6,000 more injured.
He was also known as an unofficial chaplain in the gay community, providing pastoral care and support wherever and whenever he could. He ministered, selflessly, too, with HIV/AIDS patients and with people suffering from addictions.
Pope Francis paved the way for Fr. Judge to be considered for canonization this past week when he added a new possible pathway to sainthood: the heroic giving of one’s life for others.
The pope issued a motu propio on July 11th entitled “Maiorem hac dilectionem.” The Latin title is derived from St. John’s Gospel: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). The National Catholic Reporter explained why this development is significant:
“Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, Secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said the addition is meant ‘to promote heroic Christian testimony, (that has been) up to now without a specific process, precisely because it did not completely fit within the case of martyrdom or heroic virtues.’
“For centuries, consideration for the sainthood process required that a Servant of God heroically lived a life of Christian virtues or had been martyred for the faith. The third, less common way, is called an equivalent or equipollent canonization: when there is evidence of strong devotion among the faithful to a holy man or woman, the pope can waive a lengthy formal canonical investigation and can authorize their veneration as saints.
“While these three roads to sainthood remain unchanged, they were not adequate ‘for interpreting all possible cases’ of holiness, the archbishop wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, July 11.
“According to the apostolic letter, any causes for beatification according to the new pathway of “offering of life” would have to meet the following criteria:
- Free and willing offer of one’s life and a heroic acceptance, out of love, of a certain and early death; the heroic act of charity and the premature death are connected.
- Evidence of having lived out the Christian virtues — at least in an ordinary, and not necessarily heroic, way — before having offered one’s life to others and until one’s death.
- Evidence of a reputation for holiness, at least after death.
- A miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession is needed for beatification.”
Last week, I spoke with Fr. Luis Fernando Escalante, an Argentinian priest living in Rome, who serves as a postulator for the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes. Fr. Escalante said that Fr. Judge clearly fits this new category of a heroic giver of one’s own life.
In order to propose that Fr. Judge be investigated by the Congregation to be considered for canonization, an immense amount of research first must be done. What is needed are first-hand accounts from people who knew Fr. Judge personally or who have had any correspondence with him or have other significant documents that will give a clearer, more detailed picture of his life, spirituality, and ministry. Extremely important is any information regarding a possible miracle attributed to Fr. Judge’s intercession.
Fr. Escalante emphasized that this new category for canonization requires only an ordinary living out of Christian virtues, not an extraordinary effort. So, any stories that you or your contacts may have about Fr. Judge, even if they are seemingly ordinary, are needed.
Here is what you can do:
- Share this blog post (or simply the request for information about Fr. Judge) with your social media, email, and personal contacts. Ask them to share this information with others by the same means. We need this to go viral to find people who knew Fr. Judge, who feel they have experienced his intercession in a possible miracle, or simply want to support and help the preliminaries of his Cause.
- Refer anyone who has first-hand information about Fr. Judge to contact New Ways Ministry by email (info@NewWaysMinistry.org), phone (301-277-5674), or postal mail (4012 29th Street, Mount Rainier, Maryland 20712).
- Persons who have testimony about Fr. Judge need only make an initial contact. They do not need to explain the nature of their interaction or experience with him in the initial contact. Follow-up material will be sent to them to elicit the type of information that is needed.
- Ask other organizations to which you belong who also might know people who encountered Fr. Judge to share this information.
- Pray for the canonization of Fr. Judge.
This opportunity depends on YOU! The only way that we can make Fr. Judge’s canonization a reality is through a mass effort to find people who knew Fr. Judge. People who have been involved in Catholic LGBT activities are very likely to have met him or perhaps to have prayed to him for a miracle. That is why we are asking you to share this information. Of course, those who knew Fr. Judge from other activities–his parish work, his NYC Fire Department chaplaincy, his ministry to HIV/AIDS patients and addicts–are also sought.
An official request for the Cause of Fr. Judge’s canonization can only be submitted after a great deal of this initial research is gathered. This may take many months, perhaps even a year or more. Only through a mass effort to build a network of individuals and organizations who are searching for the necessary evidence and information will we be able to get to even the first step of the canonization process.
For the sake of this heroic priest who literally gave his life for others, please spread the word!
—Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, July 17, 2017
For more information on the life of Fr. Mychal Judge, click here.
To read Bondings 2.0 blog posts that mention Fr. Mychal Judge click here.